Towels can multiply over time. It's not uncommon for me to find shelves, and shelves crammed full when helping families to get organised.
When we buy new towels, we rarely let go of the old ones, because we always think they will be needed someday. We end up with a large collection of old and scratchy towels. They fall into the 'just in case' type of clutter - just in case.. we have lots of guests, we need a few extras for the beach, or for swimming, to wash the dog, just in case we spill something, for cleaning rags, for decorating...
The fresh ones get pride of place in the bathroom and at the front of the linen cupboard and the older ones just get shoved towards the back.
It's difficult to maintain a tidy bathroom when you have too many towels available. Having a big supply readily available makes it too easy to go and get a fresh one each time, rather than hanging up and looking after the one we have just used. Meaning used towels can just get left hanging around, or we end up with a growing laundry pile each day.
Your bathroom should be a calm place to set yourself up ready to face the day or unwind at the end of it. You shouldn't have to pick up wet towels off the floor, or have to search to find a clean one to use.
Simplifying your towels means a tidier, calmer bathroom and less laundry!
PREP and sort
Go and get ALL of your towels and put them onto a flat surface, then group them together into types;
☐ Bath sheets
☐ Bath towels
☐ Hand towels
☐ Face cloths
☐ Bath mats
☐ Swimming/beach/gym towels
How many do you have?
HOW MANY DO YOU NEED?
As a general rule, I would say every person in the home needs two or 3 sets of towels each, a spare set for guests, plus a few for the beach/swimming.
☐ Daily use towels - 2 sets per person in the house
☐ A set for guests
☐ A couple of hand towels for sinks
☐ Swimming/ beach towels (if you can't take your daily use ones).
☐ Pet towels (should ideally be kept separately with pet supplies).
With 2 sets of towels for each household member, you will have one in use and one spare or in the laundry.
If there is a big difference in the number of towels that you have and the number that you need, you have some decluttering to do.
Pick the best ones for the those that you have identified you need, or enjoy using, and let go of the rest.
I know you might feel like you will need the spares. What if you suddenly have guests that need towels? or you'll get behind on the laundry but don't worry, you won't need them all. Life won't fall apart without a large collection of old, scratchy towels. They are just decisions that you have been putting off making.
Once you have picked out the ones you need, you will be left with a pile to sort into 'DONATE' and 'RECYCLE'. Towels that are new, or in good condition can be donated to charity. Anything worn, torn or stained will need to be recycled.
Towels can also be donated to animal shelters.
DECIDE WHERE YOUR TOWELS ARE GOING TO LIVE
Where do you keep your daily use towels? Towel bars, hooks, rack? Daily use towels should be easy to access and hang up to dry after use, so make sure you have a dedicated space for them.
If you don't have anywhere to hang wet towels to dry, over the door hooks are great space savers and don't take up as much room as towel racks. Having a hook for each family member really helps. Or if your towels are all the same colour, you could add different coloured ribbon tags to the corner of each person's towels so that you can identify each person's towels.
And your spares? Linen cupboard, towel shelf or cabinet, basket?
Don't keep more than you comfortably have space for.
Put out your daily use towels where they live in the bathroom, and then fold (or roll depending on how they are being stored) your 'KEEP' spare towels, and create piles for each category ready to be stored in their home.
STORE + CONTAIN
Keeping your towels contained in baskets will keep them organised and easy to find.
Label the container or the shelf space with the category name.
When you buy new towels, let go of the old ones.
Implement a laundry routine for washing the towels. I do a towel wash one day a week. Wash your towels separately to other laundry to keep them fresh and soft as long as possible.
Keeping your towels soft
Even the best quality towels can start to feel scratchy after a while. This happens when fabric softeners and chemical from detergents and dryer sheets build up on the fibres.
To make them feel fresh again, try running a hot wash and add a cup of white vinegar where you would normally put the detergent. Don't add any detergent or conditioner. Once finished, run the was again, but this time add a cup of baking soda in the same way as the vinegar - again, without any detergent or conditioner.
The vinegar and baking soda will strip the residue from the towels. If your towels are really hard, you may need to do these a few times. To keep towels fresh, do this once a month or whenever your towels start to feel crunchy
Is it really necessary to use a new towel after every bath or shower? Try and hang towels up to dry, rather than getting a fresh one out after every bath or shower.
Have a laundry basket in or close to the bathroom so you can easily drop in towels that do need to be washed.